Influenza In Philadelphia

1537 Words 7 Pages
In 1918 The Spanish Influenza took the world by storm. Worldwide the pandemic killed at least 21 million people by the lowest conservative estimates and while this pandemic affected much of the globe, Philadelphia was struck particularly with a vengeance. At the time of the epidemic, Philadelphia had a population of about 2 million. Over the course of the crisis, Philadelphia would see nearly 13,000 deaths, mostly in October of 1918 with many thousands being infected with the disease. This paper uses three main sources to frame the analysis of primary materials from Philadelphia during the outbreak. These sources include a journal article written by Joseph Scanlon for the Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management, a dissertation written …show more content…
Higgins opines the city of Philadelphia failed in two perilous areas, and these failures ultimately lead to Philadelphia being the most adversely affected city in the United States. The first critical juncture was the city’s failure to provide a “competent public health apparatus under central control.” This incompetence of the city forced private citizens to act and provide the city with the leadership it needed in order to affectively deal with the influenza outbreak. The second failure of Philadelphia was its holding of a Liberty Bond Parade on September 28, 1918. Higgins affirms that this parade was one of the major reasons the outbreak became out of hand. He feels that had the city not held the parade, at the suggestion of a few people, the mortality rate would have been significantly lower, more prolonged and many of the issues that the city faced might have been easier to manage.
John M. Barry’s monograph “The Great Influenza” provides a survey of the Spanish Influenza worldwide. His story is of the obstacles faced by the men and women “who placed their lives in the path of the disease and applied all their knowledge and powers to defeat it.” Barry continues to share, “as it overwhelmed them, they concentrated on constructing the body of knowledge necessary
…show more content…
It was a result of these horrific numbers that the city needed to mount a response to try and suppress the flu and get ahead of it. The response mounted over the next weeks began to take root and ease the city’s troubles. Roughly three weeks after the parade, perceptible gains began to be made in squelching the epidemic and the numbers of dying and newly infected began to shrink. On October 20, 1918, an article appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer written about three weeks after the parade. The article deceptively titled “No Gains Anywhere in Influenza Toll” discusses the flu epidemic as “the most trying emergency Philadelphia has ever had to face,” but proudly stated that, “every force in the city fighting along curative and preventative lines” had quelled the continued spread of the disease. The death tolls were no longer rising. Additionally the article provided numbers affected by the epidemic. For the previous 24 hour period the piece reported 606 dead, a drop of 90 from the day before, and 1332 reported new cases of the disease, a drop of 103. The previous week had seen 4596 dead, leading to a three week total of 8578. This evidence of the staggering number afflicted with the influenza helps paint a picture of what it was like in Philadelphia at the peak of the

Related Documents